The Iraq Flaq Count from Kurdistan
So in my short jaunt up to Kurdistan Iraq to visit my inlaws, I decided to engage in my customary and entirely unscientific Iraq flag count, as I do each time I am in the autonomous region. Basically, I look around over a period of 48 hours and see how many Iraqi flags I see (Kurdistan flags are all over the place), as an indicator, albeit an anecdotal one (i.e. fun for a blog post), of the extent to which there is Arab-Kurd reconciliation.
Signs are good, I'm up to nine flags this trip. Even the secondary schools (including the one my wife attended many years ago) have the Iraqi flag flying next to the Kurdish one. A few houses and stores too, though not quite as much. The malls all have them (the Majdi Mall in Erbil has about five, and five Kurdish ones, though I counted that as one). Park Azadi in Sulaymania is still dominated by a single Kurdistan flag, a huge one, and no Iraqi flag in sight. Still, as compared with 2003, when you'd have to search for weeks and probably not find one, or even 2007 (I think that's the year), when an Arab Summit insisted on the appearance of some Iraqi flag if they were to meet in Erbil and they got some tiny one on one building, times have changed. Folks on both sides of the border are growing more accustomed to the new arrangement, seems to work pretty well for them. Arab Iraqis provide cheaper labor, great bread, good restaurants, vital medical services in Kurdistan, Kurdish lawyers benefit from being able to practice in Arab courts, and so on. Trends don't always last, but neither can they be ignored, and I view this one as generally positive.
Or that's what my flag count tells me anyway.